Angela Rylander. Photo Courtesy of Angela Rylander
Bestselling author Angela Rylander chatted about her book “Willful Desire: Mighty Kingdoms of Ancient Africa.”
A coming-of-age historical romance novel set in Ninth Century Africa during its Golden Age where Mighty Kingdoms prospered from the sale of gold and other commodities along the Sub-Sahara Trading Expeditions.
The novel’s main characters are Princess Thema (a skilled sword fighter), and her childhood friend Ozigbodi.
They both live in Ancient Ghana. As well as Prince Akinyemi, from the African Kingdom of Ancient Benin. Both Ozigbodi and Akinyemi are skilled warriors and swordsmen. Their skills in battle lead to action packed scenes.
When Thema and Akinyemi meet sparks ignite as each is, drawn to the other like a moth to a flame. They are both confused by their strong attraction for each other and develop a clearer understanding of their feelings as they face life-changing events together.
Thema’s willful nature and yearning for adventure lead to heartache, joy, and personal growth as she strives to understand the meaning of life, lost, and love.
Her childhood companion Ozigbodi who she loves deeply is maturing and experiencing life alongside Thema.
Ozigbodi gets swept into the mix as he holds on to romantic notions and a love for Thema he does not quite understand.
‘Willful Desire, The Mighty Kingdoms of Ancient Africa’ (coming of age, historical romance) is the first novel Angela Rylander wrote, self-published, and illustrated.
She started the book in her early 20s, telling her mother, “I can write a romance novel!” Forty years later she finished the novel after numerous starts and stops while raising a family and making a living. Her book Willful Desire… is more a coming-of-age story of self-discovery, female empowerment, friendship, love, and family.
Touches of romance are sprinkled throughout but really unfold midway through. Angela shares facts about Ancient Africa’s history, culture, and vast kingdoms. Her novel has been featured and favorably reviewed in the national publication, Kirkus Reviews.
Creating visual art has been Angela’s lifelong passion. She relishes being the mother of grownups and loves being a grandmother.
Q & A interview
‘Willful Desire: Mighty Kingdoms of Ancient Africa’ is a magnificent read. Can you tell our readers what inspired you to write this breakout book?
My mother was an avid reader of many genres and loved reading romance novels. She would swap them with her friends. I wanted to see what interested her so. I began to read them and said to her one day “I can write a romance novel.”
I wanted to write about strong female characters and felt that, “boy meets girl” would be easy to write about. That is until I started the process. I had graduated from college with a degree in English and journalism. But I didn’t understand all that goes into writing a novel.
I heard you are an artist as well as a writer. In some ways writing a book is very different than creating art. What was one of your biggest challenges, and conversely one of your biggest successes?
Art and writing are similar in that you start with a blank canvas. I find it intimidating and challenging to fill the canvas with illustrations or words in an interesting way that pleases me and hopefully others.
The biggest challenge for me in writing a novel is staying the course. The process takes time and continued focus. Sometimes ideas and words pop into my mind at inopportune times. Like, late at night. So finding somewhere to write ideas down and then piecing them together to tell a complete story is challenging.
I always remind myself during the creative process to give myself grace. I’m my worse critic; however, I’ve grown to understand that I have to be my own cheerleader. And just enjoy the creative process. Trying is what matters most.
One of my biggest successes was when my editor (Cece Carroll felt I worked towards a finished novel, ready to be published) I also was very happy when people took the time to read the novel and said they enjoyed the journey.
While writing ‘Willful Desire: Mighty Kingdoms of Ancient Africa’ did you learn anything new about yourself?
Yes, more about my African roots. I’m African American and so is my extended family. I have had a strong desire to learn more about my distant ancestry. So I did a lot of research about several regions of Africa during Ancient times and incorporated it into the novel.
Especially after taking a DNA test and finding out that I’m predominantly Cameroonian, Nigerian, and Ghanaian. I found many similarities in the foods, customs, and norms of people from Ancient Africa and other parts of the world.
When you did the final read-through for ‘Willful Desire’ what was your favorite part of the book?
When the main character Thema stands up for herself when challenged in various parts of the novel.
This book has been a huge hit with readers, what can fans both new and seasoned expect from you in 2022? What else do you have in the works?
Well, I’d like to continue the story of Thema, Akinyemi, and Ozigbodi the main characters. Thema especially who is now a grown woman. I held back from too much romance in Willful Desire because of her age. There will be more romance and of course intrigue in the next one.
When you finish a new book what is your favorite way to celebrate?
Have a glass of wine and a delicious meal with family and friends.
“Willful Desire: Mighty Kingdoms of Ancient Africa” is available on Amazon.